Friday, November 18, 2011

Believe in Tim Tebow

I’m not religious, but I love Tim Tebow. I’m not a Denver Broncos fan, but I love Tim Tebow. I have no connections, afflictions, or geographical proximity to the Florida Gators, but I love Tim Tebow.

I was late to the Tebow smooch fest. I didn’t understand why he had the highest selling jersey in the NFL without having played a single down. I didn’t get the hype; the “he’s a winner” stuff. I thought all SEC quarterbacks were “winners”. I couldn’t comprehend the “he’s a great leader and has immeasurable intangibles” rhetoric. I thought all quarterbacks had those qualities.

I don’t know exactly why, if it was the news of the Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach and assistant coach who died in a tragic plane crash yesterday or the allegations that long time Syracuse basketball assistant Bernie Fine could possibly be a child sex offender, but the magnitude of Tebow hit me with the force of a penny dropped from the Empire State Building.

Tim Tebow is what we need.

Everywhere we turn, with every click of the remote and mouse, life is dominated by horrors. Bombings, killings, unwarranted arrests, the falling Dow Jones, and greed that would make Gordon Gecko cringe plague our days and nights.

Let Tebow win by throwing two passes a game. Let him win running the college option. This kind of play won’t be sustainable, but his personality and grace will be. There will never be a scandal. He will never be an adulterer, degenerate gambler, alcoholic, abuser, or molester.

I’m in awe of his authenticity and kind spirit sprinkled in with these miraculous late-game victories. It’s like a church bell goes off in his head when the Broncos need a touchdown late in games.

He’s a jersey signer, a charity giver, a picture taker. If religion has made him a quality human being, I’m all for it.

We see so many “icons” fall faster than pant sizes on the Biggest Loser. Tebow doesn’t flaunt his faith or make himself bigger than his religion. He’s simply immersed in it like he always has been. 40,000 stadium fans and millions watching on television aren’t going to change how he acts.

Most people adapt and transform with whom they encounter. We act differently around our boss than we do our spouse, our best guy friend and our sister. We all wear metaphorical masks, but not Tebow. He reaches the mountaintop of morality without having to climb.
If he was a vampire, he’d be a vegetarian. If a lion, he would gallop with the deer.

We all start life with a compass of ethical aspirations.

Most of us never reach it.

Tebow gives us hope that it’s not impossible, that purity of the soul isn’t just something from the Brothers Grimm fairytales.

So, he wins last night after 54 minutes of lackluster football, quirky delivery, inaccuracy, and thumping that 6’4, 236 pound frame into 270 pound NFL linebackers. And he steam rolled them all. NFL scouts, analysts, coaches, and players said his college game couldn’t transfer to the NFL.

They were right.

He brought the college game to them. The two have melted together better than butter on Texas toast. These last five games have been pretty remarkable. Tebow took over a hapless and unmotivated 1-4 team. Now they are 5-5 and in the hunt for a playoff berth in the AFC West.

Tim Tebow is a culture changer, a leader of men at a position where so many fail because of that ineptitude. I wish he was magical, could heal the sick, fix the economy, devour and destroy greed. But what he’s doing is real.

He mentions his Philippines charity work in the pregame interview, the sideline interview, and the post-game interview. He’s working on building a hospital there. Tebow knows there's life outside of the stadium walls, that suffering exists for many in this world. He understands how blessed he is to get paid playing a game. Tim Tebow is an unconventional quarterback, but more importantly an unconventional man.

Thank God for that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood

Aaron Rodgers is having a 2007 Tom Brady-esk kind of season, a quarterback rating 30 points above the next in line. Rodgers is playing the hardest position in sports with the simplicity and ease of a man’s haircut. 

Greenbay might have lost their Gunslinger, but the Packers gained a Sheriff. 

The antithesis of Brett Favre is under center for the Cheeseheads now. Both men separated by a spectrum greater than political ideology. Favre was the wild Cowboy, running around the field like a chicken with his Wranglers cut off, a career concluded by tossing more interceptions than anyone else. 

A boyish charm all fans loved with a football immaturity that all fans loathed. 

Players would hold up their fingers that were permanently disfigured from Favre’s hot mustard zingers. Rodger’s teammates hold up nine fingers, not in pain, but for their 9-0 start. 

Rodgers at 27 years old, 3 ½  years as a starter already has as many superbowl rings as the Silver Fox whose playing days started when Seinfeld wasn’t reruns, Friends just were people who hung out together, and Will Smith was still the Prince. 

Rodgers is what Favre could never be. 

While patience, humility, and decision making are Rodgers biggest strengths, they were Favre’s Achilles heel. 

If it wasn’t for the millions of dollars, sexting on his wife, flip-flopping on retirement, attention whorishness, and arrogance, I would be feeling pretty bad for Favre right about now. The old barn in rural Wisconsin that once proudly displayed his famous #4 has undergone a face lift. It’s been upgraded. After Super Bowl XLV, it was changed to “#12 is 3x4 G”. Only if that math was accurate, because to this point, anyone who thinks Rodgers is only three times better than Favre needs to check the expiration date on their peanut butter. 

I’m sure the scene at Favre’s house is a lot like his famous Wrangler commercials; just subtract the fake high school athletes, camera crew, director, producer, photographer, makeup artist, and wardrobe specialist. It’s just Favre; sitting on that broken down old tractor, the rust a lot less kind than his NFL longevity. 

I can see him turning on the T.V. to Sportscenter. Brett’s watching the Aaron Rodgers highlights and then decides to put on his muddy cap that he’s worn to dozens of post-game pressers. He ventures into his backyard to count how many times he can throw the ol’ pigskin through that wobbly tire swing. He gives a double fist pump that would make Tiger Woods proud as he nails ten in a row. 

Then, he concludes the evening by sitting with his wife at their traditional oak dinner table for supper. Their meal’s only sounds consist of breathing, chewing, swallowing, and utensils clicking. 

His wife asks Favre to pass the salt. Without looking at the label, he tosses it across the table. 

His wife looks up, “Brett, you gave me pepper.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Penn State: Keeping a Focused Hate

The Penn State scandal has rocked the core of this nation harder than a Rolling Stones concert. In the following days, none would be surprised if more gruesome information comes out from this disgusting ordeal. We pray for the molested children, we pray for their families, we pray for the Penn State community.

Having visited the campus on many occasions, I learned quickly that the campus is the city. Commerce traffic moves rapidly and without delay. The atmosphere has always been lively, full of campus spirit, tradition, and above all else, pride. Beaver stadium was a Mecca that even if not a Penn state fan, was something to put on your bucket list. But step outside the institutions walls and there’s nothing more than corn fields and cow piles that stretch on for hours. This disconnect is stark and somewhat mind-boggling.

In this small town, gossip travels like tumble weed on PED’s which begs the question, how many supposed responsible adults had an inkling of what went on? The rumor mill had almost 15 years to be churning when campus Police questioned Jerry Sandusky and told him it was not appropriate to shower with little boys.
Anyone who thinks that Penn State shouldn’t completely clean out their football closet or think it was wrong to fire Joe Paterno via phone call hasn’t read the 23 page grand jury testimony or is too ignorant to understand it.

Paterno’s moral obligation was clear and he failed the test in a crash and burn fashion.

The detailed accounts of horror make the movie Saw look like a Disney amusement park ride. And here is this small town, represented by that Nittany lion emblem, the proud “We are” chants felt in every student has lost its meaning. There is a loss of innocence for the program and all that live in the now ironically called Happy Valley.

I remember reading the novel “In Cold Blood” in college and I couldn’t help but see the connection between that rural Holcomb Kansas town and the town of Penn state. It was over fifty years ago that this farming community was shaken to its core with the brutal killing of the Clutter family on one seemingly ordinary November night. Even the local Holcomb police lost their inculpability when they found out what happened.

The scary difference that makes the Penn State tragedy worse is that those murdering monster’s were jailed immediately, while Sandusky was seen walking the campus, working out in the facility, and wearing PSU garb only last week.

I just hope for the sake of the innocent in this community and the current Penn state football player’s who had nothing to do with this horrific event, that they are able to come together and move forward, while never forgetting this disgrace.

Many have focused on the 1,000 students that rioted Joe Paterno’s exit, flipping over news vans, seemingly looking for an excuse to party when they should have been morbid as a funeral. But, let’s not condemn the 45,000 other undergrad and grad students for the stupidity of a few. These students need more from us right now, more than prejudiced blame for a crime they didn’t commit or knew existed.

Many of my friends and colleagues have moved their anger to the whole of this community, condemning all who breathe, live, and work there. It’s a slippery slope.

At a time when thousands of Penn Stater’s are still in shock, the rest of us on the outside need to be their support system, not hate brigade.